Glucocorticoids and the Developing Nervous System

  • Allison J. Doupe
  • Paul H. Patterson
Part of the Current Topics in Neuroendocrinology book series (CT NEUROENDOCRI, volume 2)


The environment of a developing neuron is rich in signals which can influence its fate. Some striking examples of this are provided by neural crest cells whose destination and phenotype may be influenced by the environment through which they migrate (Cohen 1972; Teület et al. 1978), by possible chemotactic factors such as nerve growth factor (e.g., Gundersen and Barrett 1979), by factors produced by target tissues (Patterson and Chun 1977a; Teillet et al. 1978), and by electrica! activity (Walicke et al. 1977). Glucocorticoid hormones are another likely influence on developing neurons: they have a variety of actions on the adult brain (McEwen 1978; McEwen et al. 1979), their synthesis begins during prenatal life (Jost 1966), and they are known to have numerous effects on differentiation in many tissues (Ballard 1979). A common action of corticosteroids is the acceleration of specific developmental events. For instance, the striking Increase in serum corticoid level which occurs at term as a result of increased fetal adrenal activity (e.g., Martin et al. 1977; Mulay et al. 1973) causes a wide variety of maturational changes as a “preparation for birth” (Liggins 1976). Postnatally, glucocorticoid levels fall sharply, then rise again, assuming a diurnal rhythm, as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis matures (Allen and Kendall 1967; Ramaley 1974). This rise, which elicits further differentiation, occurs at about postnatal day 19 (P19) in the rat.


Nerve Growth Factor Tyrosine Hydroxylase Glutamine Synthetase Chromaffin Cell Sympathetic Ganglion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



adrenocorticotropic hormone




epidermal growth factor


glycerol phosphate dehydrogenase




nerve growth factor




tyrosine hydroxylase


tryptophan hydroxylase


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allison J. Doupe
    • 1
  • Paul H. Patterson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of NeurobiologyHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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